June 29, 2014

On Film: Space as antagonist, with Liam Gillick and Viviane Albertine in starring roles

Guest contributor Jonathan Stevenson / Space – for instance, the relationship between negative and positive space – has long presented compositional challenges to artists. In her slyly penetrating and  satirical film Exhibition, Joanna Hogg takes a bold step beyond from that rather bland observation and looks at how space can affect their personal lives and art practices.

June 28, 2014

Philip von Zweck: Faith, futility and the problem of unexplainable phenomena

Appropriated texts and portraits of scientists, occultists, and historians are the starting points for many of Philip von Zweck’s challenging new paintings on view at Invisible Exports. Based in Chicago, von Zweck is known for a diverse art practice which, besides painting, includes performance, sound, participatory social projects, and Something Else, a radio show that ran for ten years. Though ostensibly and I think genuinely playful, von Zweck incorporates a serious, searching, and quite intellectual approach that teases out ideas about faith, futility, and the problem of unexplainable phenomena.

[Image at top:  Philip von Zweck, Billy Meier, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 16 inches.]

June 23, 2014

Roundup: Abstraction in Connecticut

This summer painter Cary Smith takes a turn as a curator, organizing "This One’s Optimistic: Pincushion," a raucous, salon-style exhibition at the New Britain Museum of American Art featuring paintings by forty of his favorite artists. Focusing primarily on abstraction, Smith has included a little of everything--hard edge geometric, non-objective, painterly gestural, metaphorical, and more. According to the press release, he conceived the show like an old-school mixed tape:
Smith has long been interested in mashing seemingly differing entities together to try to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Similar to the cassette mixed tapes he often made for friends in the 70s and 80s, which often combined wildly disparate sorts of music, abruptly shifting from track to track....Smith believes there is a heightened collective awareness that we share due to the immediate exchange of digital information among us. As one sits in front of their computer, he or she can view art from all over the world in short bits of time. This exhibition is a snippet of that world for all to view in real time and in real space. 
"This One’s Optimistic: Pincushion," curated by Cary Smith. Artists include John Phillip Abbott, Joshua Abelow, Lisa Beck, Trudy Benson, Timothy Bergstrom, Michael Berryhill, Ross Bleckner, Todd Chilton, Steve DiBenedetto, Amy Feldman, Michelle Grabner, Joanne Greenbaum, Clare Grill, Adam Henry, Daniel Hesidence, Xylor Jane, Bill Komoski, Joshua Marsh, Chris Martin, Andrew Masullo, Keith Mayerson, Douglas Melini, Tom Nozkowski, Carl Ostendarp, Ann Pibal, Josh Podoll, Lisa Sanditz, James Siena, Jennifer Wynne Reeves, Alexander Ross, Julie Ryan, Jackie Saccoccio, Russell Tyler, Dan Walsh, Chuck Webster, Garth Weiser, Stanley Whitney, Michael Williams, B. Wurtz, Tamara Zahaykevich. New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT. Through Septmeber 14, 2014.


The Wave, an impressive and well-conceived interactive art project created by artists Susan Hoffman Fishman and Elena Kalman, has been traveling around the country (readers may have seen the installation at Allegra LaViola on the Lower East Side, pictured above), and on Saturday, July 12, it goes on display at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Participants will cut recyclable, polycarbonate film into wave-like shapes and add them to the wire flowing through the installation space. Fishman and Kalman hope the massive installation will remind us of our connection to both the mysterious beauty and the awesome power of water.


At Real Art Ways, Olu Oguibe presents a series of paintings he made on his iPad. In 2010, after the death of a close friend, Oguibe fell into a deep depression, holing up at his house and resorting to a cheap graphics app on his iPad for companionship. "The Apple device enabled me to keep an record of a very dark and challenging period, and to slowly work my way through unimaginable grief," Oguibe says. The show comprises five large-scale and eight smaller pieces that embody the narrative of loss and recovery that he experienced. He says some took a few seconds to create, some a few minutes. "People like to have a dialogue with their work, a push-pull. I don't work that way," he said. "I'm done with them when I feel there is nothing more I can add to them."

According to a recent profile in the Hartford Courant:
Today, Oguibe is moving away from the abstracts and toward figurative work again, and toward dark themes. He said his next iPad project will be about Newtown or about his childhood in war-torn Nigeria. His hometown, Aba, is in the Biafra region, which seceded from Nigeria for two and a half years, from 1967 to 1970, but was re-absorbed by Nigeria after a bloody war.

"I am 49 years old. I will be 50 soon. When I was a child, there was no guarantee that anyone of my generation would survive the war. To live a half-century is a tremendous landmark," he said. "Once Nigeria defeated the secessionist state, you were forbidden to even mention it. Generations have been raised knowing nothing about it. That's not very healthy, for children to go through this traumatic experience and then they couldn't talk about it."

Oguibe said that even though English artist David Hockney helped popularize the idea of creating art on iPads, the going will still be slow. "I tried to get my students into it. They thought it was cute but not something they were particularly drawn to," he said. "I let it go."
 "Olu Oguibe: iPad Prints," Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT. Through July 6, 2014.


“Painting is a reproduction of a mental pattern. I have to see the painting before I start.” Jack Whitten (image above) has work on view at the Aldrich Museum through July 6.

Readers: Please feel free to post links in the Comments section for other Connecticut abstraction shows that I haven't included.


Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. For permission to use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

Jennifer Wynne Reeves: A Prayer for the Art World

Sad news: gifted painter Jennifer Wynne Reeves died yesterday at 51 after a relentless onslaught of tumors in her brain. Represented by BravinLee Programs, Reeves posted this prayer to the art world on her Facebook page in April.  

[Image: Jennifer Wynne Reeves, Grace Boat, 2013, gouache, wire, string and cloth on hard molding paste on paper, 10 x 12 inches.]

June 17, 2014

June 17 : Andrew Ginzel's list of NYC shows and events

SOME but not all NYC SELECTED SHOWS TO SEE / June 17, 2014  / Listed south to north. Compiled by artist Andrew Ginzel for his students at the School of Visual Arts.  Note: Images are selected by Two Coats of Paint.

[Image at top: Michael Wyshock @ Lu Magnus]

June 16, 2014

Weekend Report: Almost Delancey, Colony Room, Leo, Gatson, Robins, and A Coffee in Berlin

"ALMOST DELANCEYwith Marina Adams, David Rhodes, and Rebecca Smith," Hionas Gallery, Lower East Side, New York, NY. Through July 6, 2014. With admirably little fuss, three artists exploit simple materials--thin paint on canvas (Adams), masked lines (Rhodes), and metal strips (Smith)--to generate sharply evocative and eye-catching work. Image at top: Marina Adams, Native Life, 2009, acrylic on linen, 60 x 72 inches.

"Rico Gatson: When She Speaks," Studio 10, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. Through July 13, 2014. Beautifully installed, Gatson's work continues to mine the territory between politcs and identity, embodying potent abstraction that references both Modernist tropes and African patterns. Studio 10 looks as if it were created just to mount this handsome show. Image above: In this little painting, Gatson is looking very Nozkowski.


"Joyce Robins: Paint and Clay," Theodore:Art, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. Extended through July 20, 2014. Although known primarily for the undulating, disk-like, painted ceramic pieces she has been making for the past few years, Robins started her art-making life as a painter. At Theodore, check out some of her lovely early paintings, like the striking one pictured above from the seventies.

"Colony Room: Zak Prekop, Patricia Treib, Nick Goss," Simon Preston, Lower East Side, New York, NY. Through August 2, 2014. "Colony Room" presents some of Zak Prekop's new work (Pictured above: Black with Green/Blue, 2014, oil and ink on canvas, 27 x 35 inches) that utilizes a wider range of color than we saw in his 2012 series of white-on-white paintings. Obliging viewers who like rigorous, carefully executed abstraction, Prekop employs intricate sets of rules to create his layered canvases. In a large painting and several small works on paper Patricia Treib continues her breezy exploration of shape and color, while Nick Goss contributes a tabletop of unpainted plaster figures cast from elaborately folded wooden models as well as one large painting and two drawings, deftly straddling abstraction and representation.

"To Leo, a Tribute, from American Abstract Artists," Sideshow Gallery, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. Through July 13, 2014. Small abstract paintings by more than seventy well known artists hang cheek-by-jowl in this AAA extravaganza honoring Leo Rabkin. At 94  Rabkin is one of the earliest practitioners of abstract painting, a longtime president of the AAA group, and a noted folk art collector. Save the date: This coming Saturday, June 21, at 2pm, Rabkin is scheduled to give a talk at the gallery. Image above, left to right: Paintings by Anne Rusinoff, Joanne Mattera and Gilbert Hsiao.

Film Pick: A Coffee in Berlin
In Jan Ole Gerster's feature debut, Niko, a twenty-something law school drop out, wanders around Berlin trying to get a cup of coffee and meets various characters who symbolize Germany's relationship with its past. I wouldn't have thought that a film about Germany's burdensome history could be charmingly (if bleakly) Seinfeldian, but this one is.

Related posts: 
Quick study:Individualists' edition
Proximity: Thomas Nozkowski and Joyce Robins
Patricia Treib: Pieces


Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. For permission to use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

June 15, 2014

Brooklyn painters go west

This month I'm pleased to have work included in "Brooklyn Bridge," a group show at George Lawson in San Francisco curated by Justine Frischmann. The exhibtion features fourteen contemporary painters who work in and around Brooklyn. In her fine catalogue essay, Frischmann, a gifted painter and former guitarist and lead singer of the British post-punk band Elastica, compares the Brooklyn painting community to the London Punk revival of the 1990s.

[Image at top: Installation view with (left to right) Katherine Bradford, Jason Stopa, Chris Martin and me. ]

June 12, 2014

Intaglio Thursday: Art Basel (in Basel)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been an artist-in-residence at UConn's Counterproof Press since January. After spending many sessions with artist and master printer Laurie Sloan exploring various processes, I found that I was drawn to the most uncomplicated prints that featured direct, unadorned line drawing printed in one color. Since etching lends itself nicely to this form, I settled on making several editions of intaglio prints. When I noticed that Artsy had an 'Intaglio" filter on the Art Basel section of their website, I was curious to see what prints would be on view at the fair, which takes place in Basel, Switzerland, from June 19-22. Here are a few, and I think they reflect the capacity of a straightforward printmaking technique to turn a simple drawing into something decidedly special.

 [Image at top: Tal R, Girl smoking, 2014, line etching, 17 1/10 × 14 3/5 inches, edition of 24.]

June 11, 2014

The backstory: Supports/Surfaces survey at CANADA

In 2011, seeing a relationship to the casualist tendency in contemporary art, I posted about Claude Viallat's work and the inventive art movement known as "Supports/Surfaces" that took hold in the mid-1960s in the south of France. Expanding the notion of painting, Supports/Surfaces artists stressed the experimental use of non-art materials and valued process over image. This summer, in conjunction with France's Bernard Ceysson Gallery, CANADA is presenting "Supports/Surfaces," a welcome group survey of this under-recognized but highly influential movement.

[Image:  Claude Viallat, 1970/056, 1970, acrylic on fabric, 85 x 234 inches.]

June 9, 2014

On Film: Life in five seasons, plus Edvard Munch

Guest contributor Jonathan Stevenson / French director Sebastien Betbeder’s 2 Autumns, 3 Winters is a deceptive movie. In its easy urbanity and charm, it seems to be poking a little fun at the solemnity of the New Wave filmmakers’ embrace of life’s chaotic fickleness. Yet the film’s substance belies its tone. Narratively as well as by title, it telescopes life into five seasons of relative severity, omitting notionally happy-go-lucky spring and summer. Two of the three characters are art school grads who experience life-threatening events, one of which is a violent attack on a dark Paris street. A minor character keeps trying to commit suicide. Thus, what we get is a a fairly heavy movie with a winningly light touch.

[Image at top: Art school grads Benjamin and Arman reunite in Paris 10+ years after graduation.] 

June 8, 2014

Who is Agnes Magruder?

An exquisite Arshile Gorky pencil and crayon drawing is the focal point for Jason Andrew's latest curatorial blockbuster, "Arshile Gorky and a selection of contemporary drawings," at Outlet Fine Art in Bushwick. Fully displaying Andrew's curatorial acumen, the show features work by over thirty artists. Some pieces--like Joan Snyder's and Hermine Ford's--closely recapitulate Gorky's compositional tendencies in fluidly connecting disparate abstract images within the drawing. Others are more allusive. Most play along the boundary between representation and abstraction, and all, in context, reflect the integral importance of drawing in the artist's overall practice. The net result is a gracefully coherent exhibition that covers a wide distance yet stays within the intended frame of reference.    

Like everything involving Gorky, the backstory of the 1946 drawing is fascinating. Borrowed from a collector, the piece is titled To my Mougouch (dedicated to Agnes Magruder). After doing a little research, I learned that Agnes Magruder was Gorky's young wife. They met at a party in New York City in 1941 when she was a 19-year-old bohemian and he a 40-year-old struggling artist.

[Image: Arshile Gorky (1904-1948), To my Mougouch (dedicated to Agnes Magruder), 1946
Graphite and crayon on paper, 8 ½ x 10 7/8 inches. Private Collection, New York, courtesy Norte Maar and Outlet Fine Art

June 2, 2014

Out of context: Bushwick Open Studios, 2014

Bushwick Open Studios isn't just about visiting artists' studios anymore. Curators and gallerists have gotten involved, organizing events and exhibitions throughout the neighborhood. The curated pop-up exhibitions undoubtedly brought more people into the area, but I heard from several artists that they also drew viewers away from the studios themselves. Their testimony is credible: I confess that I was one of those who was diverted--I only stopped by a couple studios this year.

[Image at top: Laurel Sparks]

Clearly the less established artists who aren't well known enough to be included in the big group shows are hurt by the increasing prevalence of familiar artists and gallery-mounted exhibitions. After eight years, it seems as though gatekeepers may have taken over BOS--ironic and a bit perverse, given that the event was designed to circumvent them in the first place.

Nevertheless, I saw plenty of good paintings, and less entrenched artists were not completely crowded out. Here's the download from my camera phone with links to each artist.

A pint at The Narrows.

Livros Used Books on Flushing Avenue a few blocks east of The Narrows.

The award for organizing the most ambitious event goes to indefatigable painter Julie Torres, who pulled together "Do It Yourself,"  an exhibition comprising eleven small shows of work by 40+ Brooklyn artists curated by out-of-towners Torres has been collaborating with on BOS events for the past two years. Torres says this is her last mega-BOS project, but we'll see.

Related posts:
Painting IRL: 2013 Bushwick Open Studios
My neighbors at 117 Grattan Street (2012)
Hivemind: ALLTOGETHERNOW (2012)
An invitation: Two Coats of Paint's fifth anniversary party @ Bushwick Open Studios (2012)


Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. For permission to use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

Studio visit: Andrea Belag

In a loft overlooking West Broadway in Tribeca, Andrea Belag employs large swooping brushstrokes and rich transparent color to create the illusion of space and light. When I stopped by the other day she was in the process of selecting work for her upcoming show at DCKT.

[Image at top: Andrea Belag, Wave, 2014, oil on linen, 56 x 48 inches.]